Representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) submitted a public comment letter to HUD on July 30. The letter urges Secretary Ben Carson to rescind the proposed rule change to the Equal Access Rule that would allow federally funded emergency and temporary shelter providers to turn away transgender Americans. This letter is signed by 23 Senators and 122 Representatives, demonstrating significant outrage from lawmakers and affirming that anti-discrimination policy for the LGBTQ community will continue to be fought for. This bicameral letter is the latest instance of Members of Congress voicing their opposition to the anti-transgender rule and other regulations, policies, and executive orders from this administration that permit discrimination against LGBTQ people (see Memo, 7/13).
The letter details the history of the Equal Access Rule and changes made in 2016 that further clarified protections for transgender and gender-nonconforming people by granting equal access to services in accordance to an individual’s self-expressed gender identity. It discusses the implications of the HUD’s anti-transgender proposal as well as its dangers for these groups who have disproportionally suffered from homelessness and discrimination. This letter also directly addresses HUD’s justification for its anti-transgender rule change proposal (see Memo, 7/27).
Members of Congress conclude the letter by stating:
“This type of discriminatory policy is always inappropriate and unjust. Proposing a rule that targets an already marginalized group is especially egregious as we are amidst a global pandemic, where economic, health, and housing insecurity are at an all-time high. This effort is clearly inconsistent with HUD’s mission to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination. Instead of disrupting access to safe shelter and emergency services for transgender people, we urge you to immediately rescind the proposal. We suggest you instead focus your efforts on ensuring adequate and equitable solutions to mitigate the effects that COVID-19 has had on housing stability and shelter access for not only the transgender community, but for all individuals in need”
In recent weeks, the administration has removed anti-discrimination policies and regulations that have protected historically disenfranchised groups. HUD published proposed anti-transgender changes to the Equal Access Rule in the Federal Register on July 23.The proposed rule will now enter a 60-day public comment period ending on September 22, after which HUD is required to consider comments before making the rule final.
This letter, and many more that NLIHC will work closely with Members of Congress to craft, shows that advocacy groups must continue to tell the administration that bigotry and discrimination will not be tolerated.
NLIHC, True Colors United, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Housing Law Project, and other national organizations have launched the Housing Saves Lives campaign to oppose this anti-transgender rule. Together, we are calling for individuals and organizations to submit public comments opposing this rule and telling HUD that everyone has a right to access federally funded emergency shelters and services free from discrimination. Advocacy tools, resources to help craft your comment, and a direct portal to submit your comment are available at HousingSavesLives.org.
Read Representative Wexton’s Press Release Announcing the Bicameral Letter at: https://bit.ly/39FZ0KO
Read the Bicameral Letter at: https://bit.ly/2EtnKdI
Read the proposed rule at: https://bit.ly/3fVo5DL
NLIHC urges advocates to oppose this rule by going to www.housingsaveslives.org